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       Death to the Beast

                           Click for music.  Player will open on separate page.              

                Celebrating 400 Years of Anglicanism in America at the Old Jamestown Church

Sunday
Nov232014

New Crusade: Opposition to ISIL Seems to be Building, Slowly but Surely

Monday
Nov172014

We Need an Evangelical Wake-Up Call

Monday
Nov172014

It Is Such A Joy to Be with These Folks

The Old Jamestown Church deals in large part with the controveries surrounding the meaning of the Gospel and Anglican identity.  But at the end of the day, everything for which I contend here on this blog is directed -- I pray God's forgiveness whenever I deviate from it because of my own vainglory -- to the advance of God's kingdom.  If theology doesn't in some tangible way address both the glorification of God and the care of His people, then it is fit only for eternal oblivion. 

Honestly, I'm not trying to toot my own horn here.  If there was ever a man who is unworthy of holy orders, it is me.  You have no idea, but I'm not going to fill in the details for you.  It's just that grace overcame, was greater than all my sin, and so I'm humbled to be able to serve God in His Church in the last years of my life.

https://www.facebook.com/PeopleOfGodAnglican/posts/344332595739671

Monday
Nov172014

The Good News of Predestination: An Orthodox Reader Comments on the Grace of Election

Blogger and fellow Coloradan "Columba Silouan", who is a reader of this blog and apparently a tonsured Reader in the Orthodox Church, has posted a couple of comments to my recent blog entry, Archbishop Beach and Metropolitan Hilarion Encourage Anglican/Orthodox Ecumenical Dialogue.  Rather than engage his comments in the combox section there, I've elected (no pun intended) to devote a blog entry here since it is a vitally important topic and since my response will be a lengthy one.  Here are Reader Columba Silouan's comments in full:

In response to Roger, first of all, I'm sorry you had a bad experience with some Orthodox Christians, if those are the "will worshippers" you mean. Nevertheless, I wish to add some fuel to this discussion. Please peruse Fr. Alvin Kimmel's blog Eclectic Orthodoxy where he discusses a different way to examine "Predestination and Election." (afkimel.wordpress.com)

Predestination and Election ARE concepts found in the Bible, but there is a different way to look at these concepts. I think Fr. Al is on to something here. I would caution against uttering anathemas too easily. You just might have to take them back someday. God is the judge of these men and their hearts. What these men probably hate is the concept of "double predestination." I'm not fond of that one, either.

Christians disagree on this subject and doing so doesn't put them outside of salvation in Christ, as you seem to be indicating here. You can hate a certain view about God without hating God, Himself.

Here's the precise link to the article I mentioned: https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/recovering-the-good-news-of-predestination/.  And the one right before this one is good too.

Blessings in Christ
Reader Columba Silouan

I'm incorporating Fr. Kimel's article here by reference, and would therefore direct my readers to give a careful read to his article before reading my response. 

I will let Rev'd du Barry explain what he means, precisely, by the "worship" of human volition. Let me preface my response to Fr. Kimel by saying a little about the Augustinian criticism of the position that assigns too much ability to the human will.  I will do so by quoting a passage from the first edition of Alister McGrath's monumental study of the doctrine of justification, Iustitia Dei:  

Part of the fascination of the patristic era to the scholar lies in the efforts of its theologians to express an essentially Hebraic gospel in a Hellenistic milieu: the delights of patristic scholarship must not, however, be permitted to divert our attention from the suspicion voiced by the Liberal school in the last century - that Christ's teaching was seriously compromised by the Hellenism of its earlier adherents. The history of the development of the Christian doctrine of justification lends support to such a suspicion. In particular, it can be shown that two major distortions were introduced into the corpus of traditional belief within the eastern church at a very early stage, and were subsequently transferred to the emerging western theological tradition. These are:

1. The introduction of the non-biblical, secular Stoic concept of autoexousia or liberum arbitrium in the articulation of the human response to the divine initiative in justification.

2. The implicit equation of tsedaqa, dikaiosune and iustitia, linked with the particular association of the Latin meritum noted earlier (p.15), inevitably suggested a correlation between human moral effort and justification within the western church.

The subsequent development of the western theological tradition, particularly since the time of Augustine, has shown a reaction against both these earlier distortions, and may be regarded as an attempt to recover a more biblically orientated approach to the question of justification. . . .

The emerging patristic understanding of such matters as predestination, grace and free will is somewhat confused, and would remain so until controversy forced full discussion of the issue upon the church. Indeed, by the end of the fourth century, the Greek fathers had formulated a teaching on human free will based upon philosophical rather than biblical foundations. Standing in the great Platonic tradition, heavily influenced by Philo, and reacting against the fatalisms of their day, they taught that man was utterly free in his choice of good or evil. . . . (Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, First Edition, Vol. I, pp.18-19. Emphases mine)

To put the matter more succinctly, the view of human volition, which is reflected in much patristic thought and accordingly in the thought of many today who put an emphasis on patristic authority, is a pagan one. Whether or not such an exaltation of the human capacity for meaningful choice constitutes a form of "worship", an uncritical embrace of pagan philosophy whilst doing theology has led to all manner of error.   Pelagianism and Semipelagianism were two such errors.  The former received ecumenical condemnation and the latter condemnation in the West.  A subsequent error of similar nature, Arminianism, was condemned at the Synod of Dort, and the question for the Anglican is whether or not that theology stands condemned in the light of Articles IX, X and XVII. 

Unfortunately, resurgences of Pelagianism and Semipelagianism have occurred throughout Catholic history despite being condemned heresies, and as a number of Anglican theologians have observed, the English people nevertheless seem to have a hankering for Pelagianism.  I have met two Anglicans on a certain Facebook page who openly describe themselves as Pelagians, one of whom is an aspirant to holy orders in ACNA (and an open theist to boot).  When not Pelagians or Semipelagians, many Anglicans, arguably betraying this English predilection, are nonetheless Arminians.  However, as implied above the question is whether or not Arminianism too, for Anglicans, should be considered a "declared heresy."  Is their view of the human will pagan, as was the case with so many of the Fathers?  Is to exalt the capacities of the human will ipso facto to deny the biblical teaching concerning the sovereignty of God, and if so, is that a form of humanism that can be rightly described as "worship"? 

Turning now from that question to Fr. Kimel's article:

Fr. Kimel entitles his article, Recovering the Good News of Predestination.  I am happy to see Fr. Kimel link the concepts of divine predestination and the Gospel, because that's what the apostolic authors of the New Testament do, and especially St. Paul.  Taking their cue largely from Paul's Epistle to the Romans, which is the most detailed explication of the nature of the Gospel in the New Testament, Cranmer and the other drafters of the Article XII likewise link the two.  Note especially the echoes of the end of Romans 8, which is a transitional section between Paul's discourse on justification by faith alone and his controversial discourse on unconditional election in chapters 9-11, to which the Article also alludes:

XVII. Of Predestination and Election.

Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.

Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.

Ergo: the doctrine of predestination means comfort and assurance to the believer in Christ.  That salvation is assured is the principal reason why the Gospel, which means "good news", is in fact a message of good news.  For the elect, salvation is a done deal and they shall accordingly never fall from grace - quite in opposition to the message delivered by this Orthodox blogger and speaker.  And unfortunately Fr. Kimel follows her by taking away with the left hand what he gave in his right hand when he initially linked the "good news" of the Gospel and predestination.

As the reader has seen, the argument he employs to essentially negate the good news of predestination consists of an appeal to two theologians who have contributed significant theological work on the question of predestination, Karl Barth, the late neo-orthodox Reformed theologian, and Joseph Farrell, an Orthodox theologian.  As an aside, Dr. Farrell is an old college buddy of mine.  Though it's been years since he and I have corresponded, his argumentations for Orthodoxy and against Augustinianism were part of the mix of influences that resulted in my conversion to Orthodoxy back in the early 90s.  Of course, I now repudiate most of the arguments that led to my conversion, and that would include Dr. Farrell's arguments.

In one of his letters to me, Dr. Farrell wrote that his view of election was more or less the view of Karl Barth, so it comes as no surprise to me that Fr. Kimel links the two arguments in his article.  Barth's view of election is widely commended for its christocentric rather than decretal focus.  We can see that christocentric focus in the quotations that Fr. Kimel provided.  After Barth downplays the decretal theology in the preceding paragraph of the quotation Fr. Kimel provided from Church Dogmatics, he writes:

The election of grace is the sum of the Gospel—we must put it as pointedly as that. But more, the election of grace is the whole of the Gospel, the Gospel in nuce. It is the very essence of all good news. It is as such that it must be understood and evaluated in the Christian Church. God is God in His being as the One who loves in freedom. This is revealed as a benefit conferred upon us in the fact which corresponds to the truth of God’s being, the fact that God elects in His grace, that He moves towards man, in his dealing within this covenant with the one man Jesus, and the people represented by Him. All the joy and the benefit of His whole work as Creator, Reconciler and Redeemer, all the blessings which are divine and therefore real blessings, all the promise of the Gospel which has been declared: all these are grounded and determined in the fact that God is the God of the eternal election of His grace. In the light of this election the whole of the Gospel is light. Yes is said here, and all the promises of God are Yea and Amen (2 Cor 1:20). (Church Dogmatics, II/2: 12-14)

Fr. Kimel's summary:

Predestination intends Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God and second person of the Holy Trinity, the Messiah of Israel and the mediator and embodiment of the world’s salvation. Because predestination intends Jesus, it intends Israel, elected by God to receive in her flesh the Savior of the world. Because predestination intends Jesus, it intends the Blessed Virgin Mary, Theotokos, chosen by God to conceive, birth, nurture and protect the Messiah of her people. Because predestination intends Jesus, it intends the Church, the body of Christ, the new Israel and elect company of the twice-born. And because predestination simultaneously intends Jesus, Israel, Mary, and the Church, it also intends the individual believer in Christ, who has been baptized into the death and resurrection of the Lord, incorporated into the eschatological community, and made an heir of the kingdom. The gospel of election proclaims to the baptized that through their sacramental incorporation into the incarnate Son of God, they participate in the divine Sonship and are destined to be with Christ in his kingdom. Jesus is the elect One of God.  United to him we share in his divine election. To be in the Church is to be in Christ; to be in Christ is to be in God; and to be in God is to enjoy eternal salvation in the life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:

Jesus is the Christ because of his election. If the believer bears—in the profound, biblical sense—the name of Christ by bearing the name of Christian, he does so because he shares in the election of Christ. The idea that we share or participate in Christ is characteristic of the Christian religion. We share in Christ’s death, his resurrection, his Spirit, his ascension, his return, his judgment of the world, his threefold task as prophet, priest, and king, his suffering, his kingdom, power, and glory. And we share in his election. That we do so is only another expression for the fact that election in biblical thought is never a purely individual matter. The election of the believer, as that of Israel and the church, is an involvement in the divine election of Jesus….The idea of participation in Christ’s election spells the end of any purely individualistic doctrine of election and the illegitimacy of theologically tailoring the gospel to fit such a doctrine. It liberates us from the insoluble problem that a merely individual election raises for the proclamation of the gospel. It makes election the language of grace, thereby removing its vulnerability to rational manipulation in terms of logical inferences and implications. (James Daane, The Freedom of God, pp. 198-199)

And thus Fr. Kimel concludes (bolded emphasis mine),

At the moment one makes the Augustinian turn and seeks to explain human rejection of the gospel in terms of God’s eternal decrees, the preaching of election becomes impossible. The logic appears inescapable. If salvation is by grace alone, and if some reject Christ to their damnation, does this not mean that God reprobates the damned? But the gospel itself disallows the question. The election of Christ Jesus is the reason why some are saved; but it is not the reason why some are not! As James Daane comments: “Nothing in the Bible suggests that God created the world to save some men and damn others. Nothing in the Bible suggests that God elected Israel in order to damn all Gentile nations. Nothing in the Bible suggests that God sent Christ into the world both to save and damn. On this matter the Apostle is unequivocal: ‘God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him’” (p. 201).

See, the quintessential Western error, per the Orthodox, is to "make the Augustinian turn", and therefore follow the "declared heresy" of Calvinism regarding God's eternal decrees.  There's just one problem: the Bible.  For, as McGrath implies in the quotation above and as many have countered, St. Augustine was simply pointing to, against free willism, the biblical teaching regarding the fallenness of the human will vis-à-vis the sovereignty of God.  And with respect to the decrees, the Bible speaks of things God did "before the foundations of the world" and similar phraseology, so to completely jettison decretal theology for a solely Arminianesque christocentric one is to go theologically awry.  The apostolic writers who treated predestination and election clearly taught that God, before the foundation of the world, elected a certain number of individuals -- not a class or corporate body of believers -- for justification, sanctification and ultimate glorification.   Fr. Kimel's, Dr. Farrell's and Reader Columba Silouan's argument is not with St. Augustine, but with Peter, John and Paul -- and with our Lord.   

Fr. Kimel therefore avers, in good, Catholic, Orthodox and arguably Wrightian fashion, that

because predestination simultaneously intends Jesus, Israel, Mary, and the Church, it also intends the individual believer in Christ, who has been baptized into the death and resurrection of the Lord, incorporated into the eschatological community, and made an heir of the kingdom. The gospel of election proclaims to the baptized that through their sacramental incorporation into the incarnate Son of God, they participate in the divine Sonship and are destined to be with Christ in his kingdom. Jesus is the elect One of God.  United to him we share in his divine election.

In these words we see the inordinately incarnational/ecclesial nature of the atonement typically set forth by Roman Catholics, Anglo-Catholics, Orthodox, and nowadays even certain Protestants.  In the remainder of his article Fr. Kimel takes up the argument that Dr. Farrell advanced in his book  Free Choice in St. Maximus the Confessor.  For Farrell and so many other Orthodox theologians, St. Maximus the Confessor is the East's answer to the West's St. Augustine.  You see, it's all about St. Augustine's mistake in confusing person and nature (bolded emphases mine):

. . . Farrell asks, “Why does the West seem constantly plagued by recurring controversies over predestination and free will?” (p. 199). It’s not that the East was not also plagued by such controversies, as the centuries-long Eastern debates about the apokatastasis witness; but these debates appear to have disappeared after the resolution of the monothelite crisis. Farrell proposes multiple reasons for the West’s continuing struggle with predestination, many of which are highly speculative; but his most plausible candidate is the failure to properly distinguish between person and nature. Farrell cites St Augustine’s exegesis of John 6:39 (“This is the will of the Father who hath sent me, that of all that he hath given me I shall lose nothing”) as an example. Who are the “all”? According to Augustine, the “all” are the specific individuals who have been divinely elected to salvation: this “number is so certain that one can neither be added to them nor taken away from them.” For Augustine, predestination pertains to persons. Maximus, on the other hand, interprets “all” as referring to the human nature assumed by Christ in the Incarnation. Farrell states the contrast:

Rather than interpreting the “all” in a “Maximian” manner as referring to the single human nature of Christ, that is, rather than interpreting it christologically, in reference to Christ, St. Augustine interprets it predestinationally, in reference to his general doctrine of predestination. Christological considerations have been subordinated to an overarching structure of predestination. (p. 207)

Because human nature has been resurrected in Christ, all human beings will share in the resurrection, either to their salvation or to their damnation, depending on their free personal decisions. Predestination thus refers to the future state of embodied life, guaranteed to every individual by the paschal victory; it does not refer to the choice each individual must make in relationship to his Creator. Or to put the matter in different words: grace as resurrection is irresistible; grace as the enhypostasization of eternal beatitude is resistible. Farrell explains:

Christ produces the permanence of everlasting being for all of human nature, but only “as each human hypostasis” wills. To put this point in more “Calvinistic” terms makes its implications quite clear: the resurrection is the one, universal, irreformable and ineluctable fact of all human destinies, admitting of no exceptions. However, the type or state of that resurrection, that is to say, Ever-Ill or Ever-Well Being depends upon the person. One might go so far as to say that the irresistible will of God to save all men is viewed as being fulfilled by Christ in His resurrection of all human nature to everlasting being. The “all” of St. John 6:39 would thus be taken as referring to Christ’s humanity, that is, to His human nature, and not to a predestined number of human persons. It is this humanity in its fullness and perfection in Christ which is raised, and nothing is lost to it if some person wills not to be saved. Nothing has been denied to God’s sovereignty because nothing is lacking to Christ’s humanity, and yet nothing has been denied to personal human liberty either. (p. 217)

The Sixth Ecumenical Council tells us that the human nature assumed by the eternal Son included the faculty of volition—Christ has both a divine will and a human will. But if the human will has been redeemed and healed, and if Christ, in both his divine and human natures, wills the salvation of all humanity, and if all human beings are united to Christ in their ontological depths, then apokatastasis would seem to be an inevitability. Maximus solves this problem by positing two human wills: “the will as a property of nature” and the will as “property as the person,” i.e., “the equally real mode of using and employing the will” (p. 218). The natural will, redeemed in Christ, always chooses the good; evil choices, however, belong to the personal or hypostatic will. This distinction between the natural will and the personal exercise of the will thus allows Maximus to assert both that all humanity is saved by Christ through his regeneration of human nature and that each individual is free to align or disalign his will with the will of God. Through and in the incarnate Son the created human hypostasis enjoys the liberty to decide for heaven or hell.

Interestingly, however, Fr. Kimel says in the very next paragraph,  "At this point in my studies, I am unwilling to sign off on Farrell’s presentation of St. Maximus or to declare that Maximus has solved the predestination mystery", and this after previously stating, "Farrell proposes multiple reasons for the West’s continuing struggle with predestination, many of which are highly speculative. . . ." 

Indeed.  The main reason I came to reject everything Dr. Farrell wrote to me in personal mailings, which naturally reflected what he wrote in his books, is that I came to see his argument as hopelessly speculative and biblically groundless.  Consider his approval of Maximus' exegesis of John 6:39:

Farrell cites St Augustine’s exegesis of John 6:39 (“This is the will of the Father who hath sent me, that of all that he hath given me I shall lose nothing”) as an example. Who are the “all”? According to Augustine, the “all” are the specific individuals who have been divinely elected to salvation: this “number is so certain that one can neither be added to them nor taken away from them.” For Augustine, predestination pertains to persons. Maximus, on the other hand, interprets “all” as referring to the human nature assumed by Christ in the Incarnation.

Let's take a look at that verse in context:

38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

That Maximus could find human nature and not individuals in verse 39 is a testament to his wholly philosophical and theological approach to the text, one that is devoid of every necessary exegetical control.  The text CLEARLY refers to individuals.  There is nothing in this passage that suggests human nature is being resurrected; everything in it points to persons being resurrected.  And this just highlights the fundamental problem with Eastern Orthodoxy (and to a lesser but significant extent Anglo-Catholicism), which is that its theology is structured more around the mystical and philosophical nature of Greek theology rather than the exegetical nature of Augustine's later theology.  Any number of Augustine scholars will tell you that while he started out as a strong Neoplatonist, and that Neoplatonism did continue to exercise a deleterious effect in some of his theology, in later years he turned from a philosophical theologian to a much more exegetical one, and in his struggle against Pelagianism he resorted to all of the apostolic material -- including verses such as John 6:39 -- which buttress the case for the view of unconditional election reflected in Article XVII and in the theology of the (Augustinian) Reformers generally. 

So, at the end of the day, any theology that rejects the Pauline-Augustinian view of predestination and election, with its emphasis on the pivotal nature of a penal-substitutionary atonement, for a view that stresses the inordinately christocentric and Arminianesque Barthian view, or an inordinantly "incarnational" view that equates the "elect" with the number of those who are baptized and who rely solely on dispensed sacraments of the church for salvation, is playing fast and loose with the Bible, which is to say with the teaching of our Lord and his apostles.  To the people who so believe, there is only one message:  Repent and believe the predestinarian Good News of Jesus Christ.  There's no good news to be found in this, for in this all you have is what a worship of human will gives you, which is exactly nothing:

"Staying faithful until my very last breath upon this earth."  Or not, as the case may be.

Sunday
Nov162014

Praying Like an Anglican

Excellent video from St. Peter's Anglican, Evans, GA. 

I may be Reformed, but I'm also high church, and this is the kind of music we should offer to God in our liturgy.

Thursday
Nov132014

New to the Blogroll

Wednesday
Nov122014

Irresistable Grace: On the Conversion and Life of St. Paul (Throw Me Down)

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. . . .

 

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. . . .

 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Throw Me Down

Words of fire raining down on me
My blood is rising in a fury
The battle's raging with the Pride of Man,
And the winner takes all

I can't resist the irresistible force
But like a fool I keep on trying
While I breathe I am a natural man
But the Spirit lives on

Move me beyond, mold me and shape me
Unbreakable bond, keep me in step with the race

Throw me, Throw me, Throw me down
Throw me, Throw me, Throw me down

I see the mirror and my enemy
Staring back at me in wonder
Still I want what I can never be
Cause' the winner takes all

Heart of deceit, wicked and cunning
Will come to defeat, only if I lose myself

Throw me, Throw me, Throw me down
Throw me, Throw me, Throw me down

Tuesday
Nov112014

Archbishop Beach and Metropolitan Hilarion Encourage Anglican/Orthodox Ecumenical Dialogue (Updated 11-17)

Nov. 17 Update: http://www.oldjamestownchurch.com/blog/2014/11/17/the-good-news-of-predestination-an-orthodox-reader-comments.html

_________________________________________________________

Story at the ACNA's web site.

Thus far the "Anglican/Orthodox Ecumenical Dialogue:"

Orthodoxy:  "'The Orthodox Church is not only the past of Anglicanism; it is the future'. . . . You must stop saying the filioque in the Creed, jettison the 'heresies' of the Reformation (and specifically the 'condemned heresy' of Calvinism), stop ordaining women, and embrace the Orthodox faith."

Anglicanism: (Wild applause.) "We'll get back to you."

Jesting aside, I suppose dialogue with the Orthodox could bear some positive fruit in terms of cooperation in the culture wars.  However, this new initiative appears to harken back to the Orthodox/Anglican dialogue of the early 20th century, before the Church of England went off the rails.  The CofE had a bit of an Anglo-Catholic stamp on it back in those days, and it was this which the Orthodox Church saw as creating a potential for fruitful dialogue.  When it comes to Anglicanism's Evangelical party, however, there's not much for Orthodoxy to do except to tell it to "stop saying the filioque, jettison the 'heresies' of the Reformation (and specifically the 'condemned heresy' of Calvinism), stop ordaining women, and embrace the Orthodox faith."  Orthodoxy, like the Anglo-Catholic party, has no love for the Pauline-Augustinian doctrines of grace, the English Reformation that was in no small part based on them, or the Thirty-Nine Articles that teaches them.

The article at the ACNA page quotes Archbishop Foley Beach:

Metropolitan Hilarion has spent no small amount of time with Anglicans around the world, and over the years he has been a prophetic voice calling the Anglican Church to remain true to the Christian faith in the face of an increasing propensity for cultural accommodation. The conversation tonight was a pleasure, and I look forward to finding the ways in which we might partner for the cause of the Gospel.

It is important to be prophetic, and we're glad to see Met. Hilarion prophetically calling Anglican radicals in the CofE to repent of their apostasy.  But do Realignment Anglicans in general and the ACNA in particular have anything prophetic to say to the Orthodox Church in reply to the injunction directed to orthodox Anglicans to stop saying the filioque, jettison the "heresies" of the Reformation (and specifically the "condemned heresy" of Calvinism), stop ordaining women, and embrace the Orthodox faith?"  You know, like enjoining the Orthodox to revisit their view of the Gospel, before we go off and "partner" with them in its cause?  Dialogue is supposed to be a two-way street after all, but more importantly, if we ain't got the Gospel right we ain't got nothin' right.

I'm afraid that in the final analysis this "re-birth of Anglican/Orthodox relations" is much ado about nothing.  The Orthodox Church to this day maintains that of the Two One True Churches it is the Onest and Truest, and that conversion to Orthodoxy is the only acceptable course of action for those outside of its canonical boundaries who desire to "remain true to the Christian faith."  That's not just the jaundiced assessment of one who spent over a decade in the Orthodox Church.  It is simply an objective fact.

Previous responses to Anglican/Orthodox dialogue here and here.

Monday
Nov102014

E.A. Knox on the Oxford Movement and Anglo-Catholicism

Knox was the Bishop of Manchester from 1903 to 1921.  His book on the Oxford Movement and the Anglo-Catholicism it spawned is a must read.  Reflecting on the legacy of that movement in the Church of England of his day and the proper Evangelical reaction to it, he writes the following.  Bolded emphases are mine: 

Still the question may now be asked whether the experience of a century of so-called Catholic teaching, widely professed and tenaciously held without submission to Rome, does not guarantee the strength and reality of a Church Anglican, and Catholic, but not Roman? There has been, it is admitted, a constant stream of secession to Rome, mostly from Anglo-Catholic churches, and a continual approximation of Anglican doctrine and practice to Roman. This will be freely admitted by Anglo-Catholics. Still they contend that Canterbury holds out firmly against Rome, and honestly repudiates any suggestion of submission to the Papacy. This being the case, and the experience of a century having in this sense confirmed the Oxford view of a Via Media, it is suggested that Protestant opposition to the great body of doctrine and worship common to England, Rome and the Churches of the East is narrow-minded and obscurantist. Here, it is alleged, is a rich heritage come down to us through the ages, on which saintly lives have been formed, a treasury of devotion consecrated by art, an international unity of prayer and sacrifice, no growth of yesterday, no invention of a Luther, a Calvin or a Zwingli, but a living manifestation of the unity of the Body of Christ: one river, flowing in three great channels, One Temple, with, so to speak, chancel, nave and aisles. In view of this Holy Catholic Church, is it not, so we are asked, is it not the duty of the Protestant to put aside his Confessions of West-minster, of Augsburg, of Helvetia, even his Thirty-nine Articles, and at all events, to approximate his faith and  worship, so far as conscience allows, to this lofty and world-wide standard, to give in his spiritual life and worship a new place to the Lord's prayer for Unity? Such an appeal as this is not lightly to be set aside. The answer to it must come from a generous spirit and an unprejudiced mind.

The answer of the Protestant in one simple sentence is this: "Loyalty to Christ forbids." We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the Catholic system, as it is called, is not to be found in the teaching of Christ and His Apostles, but is the product of a later age, and a product that has had disastrous consequences. We cannot take it for granted that every development of Catholic doctrine and organization was necessarily on right lines. From a very early date in the life of the Church anti-Christian influences affected it. Conflict with the Empire, conflict with surrounding religions acted upon the primitive Church, and forced upon it a stereotyped organization. But it is the very nature of organization to lead to over-emphasis, to false emphasis, and thus to conceal the very truth which it was intended to protect. The conflicts of the Church with the world favoured organization, and organization soon materially affected the development of the Episcopate and of the Sacraments in the Early Church. It was this very development that so grievously misled the Tractarians; they used teachings of the second and third centuries to interpret the first instead of discriminating what was primitive from what was bred of conflict and antagonism. The prominence given to the Episcopate in conflict with the State and with mystery-religions led to the idea that the Spirit of Christ was a special endowment of the Episcopate. So it came to pass that "in a concrete way the Episcopate was substituted for the earlier faith in the Exalted Christ and the Holy Spirit: the Episcopate becomes the successor of Christ and of the Apostles, the bearer of the Spirit, the extension or eternalizing of the Incarnation, a visible and tangible proof of the Divine truth and power.  .. It (the Episcopate) also reacts upon the conception of Christ by transforming the idea of the incarnation of a Spirit working freely in the hearts of men into that of Christ as a great High Priest and celebrant, the source of all the sacerdotal energies of grace." "The Episcopal Church of sacrament and tradition has therefore become the second fundamental dogma." (n)

As a necessary consequence, in spite of some subtle distinctions too refined for practical use, it came to pass that the Church thus organized through the Episcopate took over secular power, was involved in all the arts of secular organization, and came forth through its spiritual character as entitled to universal pre-eminence. Time has modified the secular claims of the Church, though very partially as far as Rome is concerned. But whether at Rome or elsewhere "the Catholic ideal" of the Church comes between Christ and the Christian, conveys to the Christian the grace of the Sacraments only through the Church, gives to acceptance of doctrine the title of faith, even of saving faith, and, provided that the Christian is a loyal son of the Church, makes itself responsible for his salvation.

It is loyalty to Christ that makes this system, however successful it may claim to be in producing its own type of sanctity, impossible for the Protestant, who has known the power of the Spirit in his soul, and tested the reality of it in daily life. The manifestation of the system at an early period does not prove it to be a correct reflection of the teaching of Christ. Dr. Pusey, speaking of his own teaching to the author of this book, urged that it was to be found in Fathers not more remote from the Apostles than he (Dr. Pusey) was from his own grandfather. A hundred years are quite long enough to make great religious revolutions. The Church of England to-day is very different from the Church of the author's grandfather. It is not time only that has to be taken into account in the history of religion. The world of environing thought, the pressure of social conditions, and the process of internal development, are all factors which mould the life of the Church as much as that of any other institution. We have seen in the last century the Church of England affected by political and industrial revolutions, by artistic developments, by an extraordinary passion for pomp, pageantry, and theatrical display. It may be asserted that towards some of these factors the Oxford Movement caused the Church to be favourably inclined, made reception of them an easy matter. Such assertions can hardly be denied; and if every movement in a Church is a progressive movement, the nineteenth century may be called an age of Church progress. If the Church ought to be at home with the world, then the Church of to-day, though more given to awe and mystery, is in its own way quite as much at home with the world as the Church of 1833.

But this criticism of Tractarianism needs amplification. In justice to Tractarians it should be said that from their point of view this fear of the intervention of the Church between Christ and the soul is not justified, if pains are taken to appreciate their sacramental principles. Tractarians would say that "A false impression of their system is gained from superficial seizing upon such phrases as the opus operatum of Baptism, or as the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated elements. There is, it is true, as they would say, such an error as that of reliance upon purely external acts, but Tractarianism strove honestly against that error. For while it insisted that the New Birth is given in Baptism independently of the faith of the recipient—it also taught that the Life so imparted was Divine, full of energy, a death with Christ unto sin, and a new life in Him unto sanctification. The Tractarians were so far from teaching that the mere mechanical sprinkling with water ensured salvation, that they insisted again and again on the danger of forfeiting Baptismal grace by post-Baptismal sin. Again, the Tractarian view of the necessity of maintaining the new Life by means of Holy Communion, brought the soul into the awful Presence of the Redeemer, opened flood-gates of Divine Grace not only through Eucharistic forgiveness of sin, but by the Divine indwelling in man. "He taking our flesh, and we receiving His Spirit; by His Flesh, which He took of us receiving His Spirit, which He imparteth to us, that as He through us became partaker of human nature we by His might should become par-takers of Divine Nature." In all this doctrine there is not only no intervening between God and the soul, but a drawing close, close even into the closeness of mystical union. "Closer is the nearness of Almighty God to those who will receive Him than when He walked with Adam in Paradise . . . yes, nearer than when in the flesh, His disciples did eat and drink with Him, and went in and out with Him."

Nor is it only in the Sacraments that this mystical nearness is found. The Church itself does not come between Christ and us, for it is itself the mystical Body of Christ. It is the Temple of the Living God in which we, as our-selves shrines of His indwelling, are for ever hallowed and through the blissful company of the Saints brought into closest communion with Him. It is necessary to do justice to the undoubted fervour of Tractarian mysticism before charging it with cold externalism.

While we acknowledge unhesitatingly that the Tractarian Revival was no mere reawakening of ceremonialism, but entirely alien in its intention to the ceremonial development which claims parentage from it, we cannot conceal from ourselves the fact that the fervent piety of the founders of the movement was part of the religious awakening of their day, taking hold of them as it did of other schools and churches around them. Still we maintain that by their romanticism, and in part by political prejudices, the Tractarians suffered themselves to go back to that point in the parting of the spiritual ways of which one leads to the Roman conception of the Church as an institution devised to take care of men's souls for them, and thus intervening between them and God. The result was that some of the Tractarians were led directly into the Roman Church, while the rest built up an Anglican replica of Rome without a Pope. This Anglican section has found itself borrowing from Rome, not only ceremonial and doc-trine, but the external demarcation line of Episcopacy based on Apostolical Succession. The consequence is that an organization, not of Christ, has been created which comes between Christ and all non-episcopal Churches, and demands, as a condition of membership of the Body of Christ, acceptance of Episcopacy. There is indeed a further development under modernist influences, which clings to "Catholic" ceremonial, and accepts "Catholic" ideals of sanctity, on the ground that experience has proved the value of them. This school by its renunciation of authority, whether Scriptural or Patristic, is indeed constitutionally further from Rome than were the Tractarians, but it has no little difficulty in distinguishing its conception of the Holy Catholic Church from that of Rome, and from that trend of thought which the Tractarians held in common with Rome.

In short there is much truth in Dean Inge's statement that "history shows us that the powers of evil have won their greatest triumphs by capturing the organizations which were formed to defeat them, and that when the Devil has changed the contents of the bottles he never alters the labels." (n) To the Protestant it seems that, in the Oxford Movement, an effort was made to release the Church of England from Rationalism, that had degenerated into cold formalism by a return to Emotionalism. This return was however intensely suspicious of the Emotionalism of Evangelicals, in which it detected the Individualism of Rationalism thinly and unsatisfactorily disguised. The Oxford Movement sought the Emotionalism of mystery, awe, and veneration, found what it desired in its reading of seventeenth century Anglicanism, and of Patristic Theology, both of which it utilized in service of preconceived theories. It went back to the medieval corruptions which vitiated Romanism, and very soon a portion of the Tractarians were swept into the strong current of Rome. Others stayed behind in the hope of bringing the whole Church of England into the realm of so-called Catholic doctrine and practice. In either case, that is in Rome or outside it, escape was sought from unbelief through organizations once formed to defeat unbelief; but now captured by forces .that required obedience to the authority of the organization as in-dispensable to perfect faith in God through Jesus Christ. Protestantism is the principle of maintaining a direct personal relation of fallen man with a personal Saviour God. To this it adds suspicion of ceremonial which has a historical association with organizations which have sought to intervene between God and man, and which claim that such intervention is indispensable for right relation with God. It is more than this. It is also the inherent symbolic purpose of such ceremonial to inculcate doctrine.

On the question of access to God the controversy between Tractarians and Evangelicals may be concisely summarized thus: The Evangelical takes the words of Our Lord: "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (St. John xiv, 6) without any supplement or addition. The Tractarian adds to them the qualification: "through the Church" Whence follows the inquiry "What is the Church?" "Where is it to be found?"

Again the Evangelical teaches that we enter the Church through living union with Christ: the Tractarian teaches that we are admitted into living union with Christ through the Sacraments of the Church.

The Protestant, therefore, is unmoved by the claims made for the Catholic Ideal on the ground of antiquity, and by the no less seductive claim that this Ideal takes into account and makes its own the piety and the learning, the art and the architecture of many centuries. These all have their place and value for purposes of spiritual as well as intellectual culture. The Protestant is not necessarily a Philistine nor an ignoramus. He has no business to be either one or the other. But he insists that the spiritual life is a free gift of God, which no works of his own can merit, and that by faith and faith alone this gift is appropriated. He also insists that the only righteousness acceptable with God is a perfect and Divine righteousness which no act of his own can work out. He has, therefore, no righteousness of his own to offer to God but the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The sacraments administered by the Church are seals of grace already given. The whole of this Divine impartation is in order to the progressive sanctification of his life by the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. The primary duty entailed by the believer's new relation to God is, however, and always must be the communication of this evangel to others. Woe to him, always, if he impart not the glad tidings. That duty takes precedence of all the rest. But the gospel which he has received is not confined to his duty to individuals, He is set apart to do the work of God in the station of life to which he is called, and that work includes his duty as a member of the Church to maintain, as far as in him lies, purity of faith and worship within the Church. It includes also his duty as a citizen to conform, so far as he can, the law of the State of which he is a subject to the law of God. In carrying out these duties he cheerfully accepts the principle of co-operation with all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity and tries to bring himself, his rules of life, his business, his expenditure, and conduct of his household, into principles of habitual and daily self-denial. (The Tractarian Movement: 1833-1845, London: Putnam, 1933, pp. 372-380)

Monday
Nov102014

John Calvin and the Right to Armed Resistance

Part 1

Part 2

Relevance to Anglicanism?  Think John of Salisbury, the Magna Carta, George Washington, James Madison and Leonidas Polk (the last three being three notable Anglicans who believed in the right to armed resistance).  The West, including the United States, is entering a time in which Christian resistance theory may become a live topic again.  Of course, resistance can be passive or active, and the active resistance of taking up arms in defense of state and/or federal constitutions (the fundamental law of the land) and the liberties that flow therefrom is always a measure of last resort.   But it is one that Christians have taken when all peaceful measures have failed, both here and abroad, historically and recently (e.g., South Sudan). 

Christian resistance theory traces its origins to the Bible, late patristic and medieval Catholic thought.  Catholics are still ruminating about it today in the wake of recent assaults on religious liberty.  But Protestants such as John Calvin made their own contributions, and Anglicans haven't all followed the Tory approach to the matter.

Monday
Nov032014

Gospel Hope for England

Kevin Kallsen interviews the Free Church of England's Bishop of the Nothern Diocese John Fenwick on Anglican TV regarding the FCE, its history and its desire to work FCA, AMiE and others in re-evangelizing England "and beyond".  Good stuff.

Saturday
Nov012014

Return of the Embryo Parson

It's complicated. ;>)

Saturday
Nov012014

Reformation Day 2014: Luther on the Good News of Jesus Christ

“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: "I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”

Saturday
Nov012014

Reformation Day 2014: From First Things and The Calvinist International

Friday
Oct312014

Reformation Day 2014 - Paradise Through Open Gates

Meanwhile in that same year, 1519, I had begun interpreting the Psalms once again. I felt confident that I was now more experienced, since I had dealt in university courses with St. Paul's Letters to the Romans, to the Galatians, and the Letter to the Hebrews. I had conceived a burning desire to understand what Paul meant in his Letter to the Romans, but thus far there had stood in my way, not the cold blood around my heart, but that one word which is in chapter one: "The justice of God is revealed in it." I hated that word, "justice of God," which, by the use and custom of all my teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically as referring to formal or active justice, as they call it, i.e., that justice by which God is just and by which he punishes sinners and the unjust.

But I, blameless monk that I was, felt that before God I was a sinner with an extremely troubled conscience. I couldn't be sure that God was appeased by my satisfaction. I did not love, no, rather I hated the just God who punishes sinners. In silence, if I did not blaspheme, then certainly I grumbled vehemently and got angry at God. I said, "Isn't it enough that we miserable sinners, lost for all eternity because of original sin, are oppressed by every kind of calamity through the Ten Commandments? Why does God heap sorrow upon sorrow through the Gospel and through the Gospel threaten us with his justice and his wrath?" This was how I was raging with wild and disturbed conscience. I constantly badgered St. Paul about that spot in Romans 1 and anxiously wanted to know what he meant.

I meditated night and day on those words until at last, by the mercy of God, I paid attention to their context: "The justice of God is revealed in it, as it is written: 'The just person lives by faith.'" I began to understand that in this verse the justice of God is that by which the just person lives by a gift of God, that is by faith. I began to understand that this verse means that the justice of God is revealed through the Gospel, but it is a passive justice, i.e. that by which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: "The just person lives by faith." All at once I felt that I had been born again and entered into paradise itself through open gates. Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different light. I ran through the Scriptures from memory and found that other terms had analogous meanings, e.g., the work of God, that is, what God works in us; the power of God, by which he makes us powerful; the wisdom of God, by which he makes us wise; the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.

I exalted this sweetest word of mine, "the justice of God," with as much love as before I had hated it with hate. This phrase of Paul was for me the very gate of paradise. Afterward I read Augustine's "On the Spirit and the Letter," in which I found what I had not dared hope for. I discovered that he too interpreted "the justice of God" in a similar way, namely, as that with which God clothes us when he justifies us. Although Augustine had said it imperfectly and did not explain in detail how God imputes justice to us, still it pleased me that he taught the justice of God by which we are justified. - Martin Luther

Friday
Oct312014

Reformation Day 2014: Quotable Quote

"The Law saith, Where is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction? The Gospel saith, Christ is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction.”
Patrick Hamilton

Friday
Oct312014

Reformation Day 2014: The Battle for the Bible in the English Reformation

Wednesday
Oct292014

"What must we do to be saved?", by an Anglican Catholic Priest

Here.

Sometimes, it is harder to know the right question to ask, than it is to come up with the right answer. In today's gospel Jesus was asked by someone: "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" It is a question that I am sure all of us, at one time or another, wondered about, but it is still not the right question. 

The question Jesus wants us to ask, is: What must we do to be saved? 

And to this question Jesus responds that, whatever we do, we must be ready. Ready, not only in the sense of being on the lookout for when He will return, but ready by avoiding evil such as failing to keep the Lord's day holy, disrespecting our parents, murdering, taking someone else's spouse or coveting someone else's spouse, taking someone else's property or coveting it, ruining someone's good name, or failing to help the poor or disadvantaged when we could have done something for them. 

Are we avoiding evil and doing good is the question Jesus wants us to ask ourselves in preparation for His return. Asking the right question now can save a lot of grief later.

Father Ed Bakker 
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province 
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne 
Bendigo, Australia 

In a word, no:

"Then said they unto him, 'What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said unto them, 'This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.'"  (John 6: 28-29)

"But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.' Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.' (Acts 16:28-31)

"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.  But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, 'Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, 'Who shall descend into the deep?' (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)  But what saith it? 'The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart': that is, the word of faith, which we preach;  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:4-10)

"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2: 1-9)

XI. Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification. 

XVII. Of Predestination and Election.
Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.

Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.

Wednesday
Oct292014

Quotable Quotes

"In the progressive demotion of the (39) Articles as the already ambiguous detritus of the pluralistic English Reformation, we confront for the first time the problem of Anglican identity."  (Aidan Nichols, O.P., The Panther and the Hind: A Theological History of Anglicanism, p. 35)

"The raison d’etre of subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles is the necessity, in a divided Christendom, of agreeing on a version of the Catholic Faith. In the Articles we have the Anglican version of the Catholic tradition of Faith and Discipline. It is not open to any loyal Anglican to form any other.

Alike for negotiations with other branches of the Church, and for the instruction of its own members, some authoritative statement of specifically Anglican teaching and practice is really indispensable. Such an authoritative statement is provided by the Thirty-nine Articles, and, if they were abandoned, it would be necessary to provide a substitute."  (H. Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham, 1920-1939)

Wednesday
Oct292014

Fr. Munn Replies

Fr. Jonathan Munn has posted another thoughtful and irenic article, in which he reflects on recent exchanges he has had with me on the vexing matter of Anglican identity.   His article seems to be a reply to this blog entry, in which I thank Fr. Munn for the candid admission he made there concerning his Continuing Anglican church, the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), which is that it isn't truly "Anglican", but, as its name implies, "Anglican Catholic"  (or "English Catholic").  Of course, Fr. Munn has suggested, and I would agree, that whether one is an Anglican largely depends on how one defines "Anglicanism."  He and I would seem to agree that if the term “Anglicanism” refers to "the reformed and established church in England" and her daughter churches in the Anglican Communion, then "Anglican Catholics" are not Anglicans.  Not only are they not in communion with that church established in the Elizabethan Settlement or with the wider communion, neither are they “reformed”, which is to say “Protestant.”  This would be in keeping with the scholarly conclusion of a number of historians, including and especially that of Peter Nockles, that there are simply too many theological discontinuities between Tractarianism (and its Continuing progeny) and what preceded in the Church of England, including even the catholicizing Caroline Divines, for "Anglican Catholics" to make a valid claim to being Anglican.   As Richard Turnbull puts it,

The Oxford Movement has had a significant influence upon the spirituality and shape of today’s Church of England.  The movement comes with its own heroes and house histories (written from the inside as apologies for the movement), its own spirituality, theology and worship, its own followers and successors.  Yet most scholars assert that the Oxford Movement itself represents a significant discontinuity in the historical understanding of the Church of England, a serious misreading of the religious history of England in the sixteenth century.

Similarly, Aidan Nichols avers, “(Hooker’s) Ecclesiastical Polity has been called the beginning of Anglicanism, and this is a credible claim in the sense that in the work Anglicanism first achieved a relatively coherent theological form."  He adds in a footnote, “Peter Lake goes further, arguing that Anglicanism ‘came to exist in the Elizabethan church, largely because Hooker invented it.”  However, Nichols also writes that it was “in the progressive demotion of the Articles” after the English Reformation that “we confront for the first time the problem of Anglican identity”, which suggests that Anglicanism is bound up in some essential way with the 39 Articles.

Whether Cranmer or Hooker was the true architect of Anglicanism, the long and short of it is that Anglicanism is a Protestant thing, and Anglican Catholics want no part of Protestant things, any more than principals in the Oxford Movement did.  (“Anything which separates the present Church from the Reformers I should hail as a great good.” – Keble; “I am every day becoming a less and less loyal son of the Reformation.” – Pusey.)  Diarmaid MacCulloch and Alister McGrath are among many scholars who, responding to Anglo-Catholic claims, have made indisputable cases for the essentially Protestant nature of Anglicanism.  Since Anglicanism is essentially a Protestant thing, it would seem to follow that anti-Protestants can't be Anglicans. 

Fr. Munn clearly agreed with that proposition in his earlier article.  However, he now seems to be backpedaling, or at least qualifying his earlier remarks.  He writes that he and I 

. . . disagree on the nature of what it means to be Anglican: while I argue that "Anglican" is a meaningful adjective from before the Reformation, he would argue that in order to be truly Anglican, it is necessary to embrace the Articles from a Reformed viewpoint. His description of me would be that I am not an Anglican but an English Catholic.

I don't object to being described as an English Catholic, but I do feel that I have some claim to the adjective "Anglican". My orders, for example, were bestowed by Bishop Damien Mead last year. He in turn was consecrated by Bishop Rommie Starks in 2008, and one of Bishop Starks' consecrators (back in 2000) was then Bishop, later ACC Archbishop, Br John-Charles Vockler who was consecrated bishop in 1959 during the days of the orthodoxy of the Anglican Communion and received into the Anglican Catholic Church in 1994. Br John-Charles was Bishop of Polynesia, but also served a time as an assistant bishop in the Church of England. Thus, the Anglican Communion cannot claim that the ACC Diocese of the United Kingdom is without direct links to the Established Church when it was actually orthodox. My point is that I believe that the ACC has at least one point of continuity with the Anglican Church through its bishops, at least until the Church of England ceased to be orthodox and introduced doubt into the validty of the Sacraments that they now claim to distribute.

I will grant that “one point of continuity”, but I hasten to observe that it is a point only regarding ecclesial form, not one of theological substance.  Apostolic succession involves not only a laying on of hands, but a passing on of substance, and as Nockles et al. have argued, the substance of Anglo-Catholicism differs radically from the substance of earlier Anglicanism.  This is largely why Fr. Munn using the analogies of Theseus' Ship and the body’s replacement of cells won’t do.  In the case of Theseus' Ship, the replaced planks must substantially reproduce the decayed ones.  In the case of human cells, the body creates identical copies of dead cells, subject to whatever mutations may have occurred.  These analogies simply aren’t apt,  for in the case of Tractarianism and its successor Anglican Catholicism, the claim, as noted above, is that it represents a serious theological discontinuity with the earlier (Protestant) theology.

However, Fr. Munn concludes this section of his article by stating that he’s “not using this to convince Deacon Little of my Anglicanism - I doubt that I can given that his idea and my idea of what it means to be Anglican are so diverse - but rather more to demonstrate that our traditions have commonly spun out of that period called the Reformation."

Yes, “spun” wildly, which is why Anglicanism, even taken as broadly as he’d like to construe it, has an identity problem.

He then shifts the subject somewhat:

My Archbishop, Mark Haverland, has been seen at various inter-Anglican events, most notably at the investiture of Archbishop Foley Beach as primate of ACNA. I cannot comment nor wish to do so about what my Archbishop was doing there save that I am convinced that he was there in the spirit of Christian Charity and with a desire to express the well-wishing and prayers of the Anglican Catholic Church whom he serves as Metropolitan. 

However, if I were there, for what reason would it be?

His Grace has indeed written about the fragmented nature of the Anglican identity and has stated quite clearly that he believes that it is necessary for us to adopt the identity of Anglo-Catholicism as what it means to be properly Anglican. Given that the later Anglo-Catholics were Romanisers whose seeking re-union with the Roman Church has produced the Ordinariate, our rejection of the Papal claims must mean that we have to look to the original identity of Anglo-Catholicism as Anglicanism reviewed through Patristic eyes. The Anglican Catholic Church is a Truth-seeking Church and in order to seek the truth faithfully, it must start somewhere. One cannot begin an inquiry without stating the basis of that inquiry. The Continuing Anglican movement is forty years old, the AMiA even younger, but we come with baggage amid the fog of confusion which we have inherited. We are still in early days: while there is much of which we can be, there is much that is still in a state of flux.

If I were primate, and most assuredly I am not and think it statistically impossible that I would ever be so, then I would attend an ACNA investiture out of respect for the common ground out of which the ACNA and the ACC have sprung and to which we claim continuity.  I would attend because, though there are many issues over which we disagree both practically and theologically (even seriously so), because I would see in ACNA a serious and heartfelt attempt to seek the same truth which I would be seeking. We might be walking apart, but we might be walking apart in the same direction which can only lead to unification in Christ Jesus. As I say, that is what I would do. However, I am a newly minted priest and not privy to issues involving the polity of my Church. It is not my place to draw any conclusions on matters which don't concern me. I trust His Grace and his leadership, and pray that he may continue to lead us faithfully in the way of Our Lord to Whom I am most sure he is committed.

This section of his article is a reply to my speculation as to why Haverland attended the investiture when he has politely declined to attend events of equal significance, like the ACNA’s inaugural assembly in 2009.  Now, the responses Fr. Munn gives are fair, although there are possibly some tantalizing things to be read between the lines.  I won’t speculate about that just now, however, though it all clearly gives rise to all sorts of speculation.  I speculated a couple of weeks ago about something that happened among bishops present at ++Beach’s investiture, and as it turns out, I was right.  However, there is less to go on here, so along with other Anglican watchers with whom I communicate about such matters I’ll just watch and wait to see what happens, if anything, with ++Haverland and ACNA.  If nothing more is “up” than what Fr. Munn suggests, so be it.

Lastly, some responses to Fr. Munn’s penultimate paragraph:

Deacon Little would claim that his understanding of Anglicanism is also Patristic. I believe him to be sincere about this and would humbly suggest that he has more in common with Anglican Catholics that he might like to think. After all, Protestant is not the opposite of Catholic and I am sure that he would agree that he is much a part of the One Holy Catholic Church as he confesses with me in the Nicene Creed. I am sure that he would reject with me the heresies of the revisionists in ECUSA and the CofE on largely the same grounds, that we look for the same faith from the Source, and have an appreciation for the ritual of the Prayer-book. Again, he and I would differ on the use and authority of the Book of Common Prayer but one can see the tenacity of American Anglicans as they fight for their Anglican identity against a body whose wholesale rejection of the 1928 BCP in favour of a revisionist 1979 BCP. This latter revisionist, heretical attitude of the ECUSA has led to the existence of ACC, ACNA and AMiA as well as other noble Anglican bodies. We have much in common.

Yes, I do claim that my understanding of Anglicanism is patristic, but as I state in my “About” page,

When I say that Anglicanism is "Catholic" . . . I don't mean what the Tractarians and their modern successors mean.  Anglicanism is an expression of Protestant Christianity.  Period.  It is an expression of Catholic Christianity too, but only in the sense that it accepts the historic Creeds and Ecumenical Councils of the Church, venerates the Fathers to the extent that they agree with the Apostles, stands squarely in the Augustinian theological tradition, which for over a millennium was the dominant theological tradition in the Catholic West, and has preserved historical Catholic church order.  It confesses its faith in the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church", but it adds that the best way to ensure the authentic catholicity of the Church is to make sure it is authentically holy and apostolic.   Sometimes that means reform.

Yes, Protestant is not the opposite of Catholic, but I do believe the Protestant Reformers are every bit as important to the Catholic faith as were the Fathers, a belief most Anglican Catholics would utterly repudiate.  As I stated on the “About” page,

The Reformation, Continental and English, represented an attempt to correct, mainly in the areas of soteriology and sacramentology, a Catholic church that had gone off the rails regarding these matters and others.  The Reformation represented both the ecclesial and theological triumph of Augustinianism, and because neither Rome nor Orthodoxy had a place for it, it was forced to branch off into separate churches. That did not affect the catholicity of the Reformation churches, however, and this is arguably especially true with the Church of England since it preserved Catholic church order.  Anglican blogger "Death Bredon" gives us this succinct and brilliant assessment.  (Emphases are mine):

The genius of the Protestant Reformation is the recognition that, during the Middle Ages, "ecclesial creep" in both the Western and Eastern portions of the Church had for all practical intents and purposes replaced Old-Law works righteousness with a new works righteousness based on the respective "New Law" of the West (the Penance-Merits-Purgation-Indulgences doctrinal phalanx) and of the East (the imposition of the Monastic Typicon upon the laity).

Furthermore, . . . the formularies of classical Anglicanism did a better job of retaining the wheat of the orthodox catholicism of the ancient Church while jettisoning the chaff of innovative medieval accretion than did any other segment of the Reformation. This is why Anglicanism can, perhaps uniquely, lay equal claim to the appellations Protestant and Catholic and affirm both without any sense of inconsistency or incoherence. Indeed, strictly speaking, in proper understanding of each term, to truly be one, you must be both.

And yes, I reject the heresies of the revisionists in ECUSA and the CofE largely on those grounds, and it is there that classical Anglicans and Anglican Catholics find some important common ground.  If it only weren’t for the latter’s rejection of the claim, often attributed to Martin Luther, that justification by grace alone through faith alone “is the article by which the church stands and falls.”  Because that article, to us Protestants, constitutes the essence of the Christian Gospel.  Again, Nichols:

Contrast a modern Anglo-Catholic who asserts that:

the centre if Paul’s theology is not justification by faith, but rather participation in the body of Christ, and the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile,

and taking justification by faith itself as:

meaning one can only live a truly good life through incorporation in the social body dedicated to Christ’s memory – out of the resources which this provides. . .

writes off as ‘residual Lutheranism’ any anxiety that here ‘social elements’ are displacing ‘theological ones’ (Citing J. Milbank, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Oxford 1990), p. 120)

As Fr. Paul F.M. Zahl writes in The Protestant Face of Anglicanism (emphasis mine),

The underlying premise for this study of the Protestant face of Anglicanism is an understanding that Anglicanism is a tension between two divergent schools of thought within Christianity.  Anglicanism is an umbrella that stretches, for reasons relating primarily to the history and politics of Tudor, Jacobean, and Stuart England, over two different and perhaps ultimately irreconcilable presentations of the religion of Jesus.

Therein lies the true issue between the classical Anglican and the Anglican Catholic, and to Fr. Munn and any other Anglican Catholic reading this who shares Keble's, Pusey's and so many others' antipathy to the Protestant Reformation (though I ask them to kindly disregard the source of this quotation), "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."

(See recent entries on Anglican identity here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)